GOP to control redistricting

On the side

Minority leader? State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, one of the most experienced Democratic legislators in Ohio, said he’s not actively pursuing the position of House minority leader. But Democratic insiders in Columbus say Gerberry, D-59th, has had recent conversations gauging support among House Democrats for the appointment.

Democrats lost the Ohio House majority in last week’s election. It’s not clear if they’ll be in the mood to elect outgoing Speaker of the House Armond Budish of Beachwood, D-8th, as minority leader, the No. 1 position for Democrats come January. Even so, it’s likely Budish will get the nod if he wants it.

Budish helped the Democrats gain control of the House two years ago, but the party failed to retain the majority under his leadership.

Among the 99 seats, 53 of them are currently held by Democrats with 46 Republicans.

Republicans will have at least 58 positions in the House compared to 39 Democrats beginning in January. Results for two seats are too close to call with provisional ballots not yet counted.

The Republican sweep in last week’s statewide election was so overwhelming that Democrats shouldn’t be terribly concerned about the 2012 legislative redistricting process.

After the incredibly bad showing by Democrats in last week’s election, there is little Republicans can do to legislative lines to benefit them.

Based on the U.S. Census, each state must redraw boundaries for the state Legislature and Congress every 10 years based on population. The Census numbers come out next year with new boundaries for the 2012 election.

The Ohio House and Senate lines will be determined by the state Apportionment Board, which will consist of the incoming governor, auditor and secretary of state, all Republicans, as well as two legislators — one Republican and one Democrat.

The House and Senate, with strong Republican majorities in both come January, draw congressional districts.

What will happen next year is identical to what occurred in the 2002 election when Republicans controlled redistricting.

Ohio lost one congressional seat in 2002.

The 2002 redistricting split Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties primarily to pit then-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. against either then-U.S. Rep. Thomas Sawyer or then-U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, all Democrats at the time.

It was an easy way to eliminate a Democratic seat as Traficant was under federal criminal investigation. He was later convicted and sent to prison before the 2002 general election.

In somewhat of a surprise, then-state Sen. Tim Ryan beat Sawyer in the Democratic primary and was elected to Congress.

[I should mention that even with Republicans redistricting the state, Democrats gained control of the Ohio House and had a 10-8 advantage among U.S. House members after the 2008 election, but lost both in this past election.]

This time, at least one, and probably two, congressional seats must go because of the state’s population.

But after the big Republican victory, there will only be five Democrats from Ohio in the U.S. House.

One congressional seat could be eliminated if U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Mansfield, R-4th, decides to challenge U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Avon, in the 2012 Senate race.

Had U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville, D-6th, been re-elected, it would have been easy for Republicans to carve up that sprawling 12-county district that includes all of Columbiana County and about half of Mahoning.

With Bill Johnson, a Republican from Poland in Mahoning County, elected to the seat, the GOP may not have a choice but to keep the heavily-Democratic Mahoning County split in two and retain much of the 6th District as it is.

Ohio Democrats are an endangered species.

Beginning in January, none will hold positions in the state’s executive branch.

There will only be 10 Democrats in the state Senate, and five U.S. House members, both the lowest amounts since 1967.

Democrats will have no more than 40 of the Ohio House’s 99 seats next year. It could be as little as 38 depending on the outcome of two close races.

How much more irrelevant could redistricting make Democrats in Ohio?

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